4 years in the making

On March 22nd, I blogged. I wrote a post about ‘life done differently’. At the time, I was frustrated. Frustrated with process, politics, and corporations. I thought I knew what I was looking for… but for some reason I just couldn’t find it. I yearned to do what I love; to make a difference in the lives of organizations, employees, and the community.

Later that night I received an email with the subject “Wow – look at this opportunity.”

This was attached:

I read the posting – over and over again. After I saw the word ‘administration’ and rolled my eyes, I smiled. My heart melted as soon as the posting referred to someone who wanted to ‘change the world.’ From a human resources standpoint, the position sounded basic… but I knew that it would evolve and I would have the opportunity to utilize my strengths in a challenging and creative organization.

My response to Michelle via text:

2011-03-22 10:38pm

I totally don’t know what to say re: that posting just magically appearing in my inbox.

Is it time to stop being difficult?


Some background:

What you don’t know is that I first met Michelle in October of 2010. We connected through Twitter over discussion about the Human Resource Institute of Alberta’s mentoring program. She was a mentor, I was a mentee, yet we were not matched. In fact, she told me ‘we could never work together.’  On January 10, 2011 we went for some after work eats at Una Pizza and Wine. We talked human resources, transparency, social media and the community. Michelle said she would love for me to join the company.

Over the weeks and months that followed, I interviewed. Everywhere. I flew across the country meeting executives, managers, and recruiters. I received offers. I received mixed messages. I met a lot of amazing people, but most importantly I was overwhelmed. My entire being. How would I make a decision? Is it completely awful to say that I was overwhelmed with opportunities?

I needed a ‘to remain unnamed’ company piss me off on March 22, 2011. I needed to stomp my feet and demand answers. I needed to have an inspiring and enlightening conversation with John Wilson at Wilson Human Capital Group later that afternoon. That night, I needed to blog about it. I needed to do all of that in order to determine what was next…


On March 29, Michelle and I met. I had been thinking about the future and my career every single day since March 22. I was ready to start learning about a potential role with Elevated HR Solutions. Not surprisingly, I was hesitant and had questions. [I have been in a ridiculously secure job with a pension for the last 4+ years]. We talked about job responsibilities, logistics, relocation, growth of the company and what we could begin to change in the human resources profession. I asked her for time to think about what I wanted and potential next steps.

On April 1, I went to TEDxYYC. My name tag said: JILLIAN WALKER<NAME OF EMPLOYER>… in big bold letters. As soon as I saw it, I thought “that doesn’t describe me…” “that’s not why I’m here today…” After discussion with a girlfriend, I listed my position/organization as “HR GAME CHANGER.” TEDx asked us what does Calgary need more of? I answered “ENTREPRENEURS.”

[I was obviously on my quest to figuring out what I wanted… but a few more pieces needed to play out…]

TEDxYYC – April 1, 2011

I remember being so hard on myself on April 3. I kept on telling myself… “just figure it out…” “what do you need…” “what are you actually looking for…” “you are wasting time…” I had some sort of weird revelation in the hours that followed and finally I found it.

I am not meant to be an employee.

I am not meant to be that typical 8am-4pm who is bound to rules, policies and past history.

I want freedom to create, discover, engage, grow, learn, teach and live life to its fullest.

I want to have opportunities to challenge my profession.

I want to be the absolute best version of myself.

I want to do what I love.

I want to change the world.

[That’s it… I swear.]

On April 4, I texted Michelle and said:

May 20 is the date I’m thinking. Sound ok?


You may have seen this:

Or this:

Or maybe this:

[I accidentally posted this on @elevatedhr instead of @jillianwalker. :) – oopsie.]

Lastly this:

… we have been a wee bit excited. :)


Today I resigned from my employer of 4.5 years.

Today I feel free.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII

This whole career transition has been a long time coming. I started with my employer on January 8, 2007. I was fresh out of Mount Royal College and keen to apply all I learned in my post-secondary education. Six months into my entry-level HR role, I was bored. I didn’t feel challenged and begun applying on internal roles.

On March 10, 2008, I applied on my first external role. Was I ready to leave then? Unlikely. As I have been working for a large organization, I’ve had the opportunity to transfer to new departments and go on projects within Human Resources to continually broaden my skillset. In the last 5 years, I have had 5 roles. With that comes 5 managers that taught me an incredible amount about human resources, life, family, and friends. I learned about what I value in an employer/manager, and what drives me absolutely up the wall.

A 4 year job search? Of course there have been ups and downs. Obviously there have been ups and downs. But at the end of the day… I am grateful.

Grateful for being given the opportunity to learn, to diversify and to truly discover what’s next.

I am thrilled to announce that effective May 20, 2011… I will be the Vice President of Client Experience for Elevated HR Solutions. I will remain in Calgary over the summer months, relocating to British Columbia in Fall 2011 to run the Vancouver and Seattle division.

Official press release:


Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Whether it be hours of laughs, a quick text message to make me smile, much needed lessons in entrepreneurship or talking me off my ledge, I appreciate every ounce of advice, support, and love.

Thank you to everyone involved in Focus 2040 and KPMG’s What Makes a Top Employer competitions.

Thank you to the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, Human Resources Association of Calgary and Canadian HR Reporter for continually supporting me in my career.

Thank you to my mentors, Alida, Dawn, Doris, and Joan, for encouraging me to dream big.

Thank you to John Wilson for giving me that final push and belief in my abilities.

Thank you to the inspirational women at YWiB.

Thank you to two beautiful Vancouver souls – SA and WT.

Thank you to my best friend Haley Lonsdale who has put up with a good few years of crazy.

Thank you to my family back home and my second family in Calgary.

Lastly big love to Aaron, Alex, Amanda, Bethany, Brandy, Brenda, Carolyn, Christine, Dan, Darci, Dionne, Erin, Gillian, Heather, Izabela, Jay, Jeff, Jen, Jessica, Joel, Judy, Kait, Karen, Kendal, Kim, Leo, Lily, Lisa, Madi, Maeghan, Mandy, Mason, Melissa, Shawn, Steve, Tacita, Teang, Tony, Trace, Troy, Val and so many more.

I couldn’t have done this without you.


Michelle, I can’t wait to see what we will create. Thank you for inviting me along on the journey.

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

With absolutely all my heart (and a whole bundle of nerves and excitement),

Jillian Walker

PS – If I can offer any ounce of advice… trust your gut. Don’t settle for anything less than everything.


  1. Thomas Stenson May 2, 2011

    Simply Amazing Experience! Congratulations!

  2. Chloe May 2, 2011

    Congrats, Jillian! What an AMAZING opportunity. So happy for you! xo

  3. largecoffeeblack May 2, 2011

    Congratulations Jillian!! What a fantastic opportunity… and I know you will make the most of it. Working for yourself or a startup is a ton of work but so much more rewarding. All the best with it. Fortune

  4. Heather May 2, 2011

    Wow- congratulations! You are already who you want to be…free, inspiring & of course a game change. The trail you’re blazing will illuminate a path for many to follow. Well done. Don’t underestimate the courage you had and have, to look in to the darkness, walk towards the mystery of life and find what you were searching for. Lots of love and light for you!! xx H/

  5. Melissa May 2, 2011

    Thank you for the reminder that it is important to follow your dreams and not to settle for anything less. Congratulations and best wishes!

  6. Audrey Schmidt May 2, 2011

    Hi Jillian, You don’t know me yet but I’m Michelle’s mom and one of her biggest supporters. I look forward to meeting you and I know the two of you will make great things happen. Congratulations to both of you.

  7. Tod May 2, 2011

    Congratulations Jillian and welcome to Vancouver!

  8. Nicole Saxton May 2, 2011

    Congratulations, you deserved it! :)

  9. Madi May 2, 2011

    The world is yours. Never stop being so goddamn amazing. Never.

  10. 4 month increments May 2, 2011

    Congratulations Jill! I am so happy for you, you have no idea! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you in Calgary, but we will reunite and celebrate in 2012 in the land of the hippies!


  11. […] joining Elevated. I was preparing for September/October to make that happen.  But as you read her journey, that didn’t quite work out.  So I drummed up a job description tailored to her (that of […]

  12. Justin Nowak May 4, 2011

    That is one hell of an opportunity, congrats!

  13. Darren Sproat May 8, 2011

    Congratulations, Jillian… I’m glad I happened on to this post this evening.

  14. pippa martins-st. onge May 27, 2011

    I think you may be a little too immersed in this career stuff. I hope you have other important things to do with your life other than the Corporate World which can really suck the life out of a person.

    Take time to breathe, don’t burn out too soon.

  15. […] joining Elevated. I was preparing for September/October to make that happen.  But as you read her journey, that didn’t quite work out.  So I drummed up a job description tailored to her (that of […]

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